COP26 Session IBTM World

Journey to Change: The Future of Business Events after COP26 at IBTM World 2021.

Article Published 16/12/2021

Just a few weeks ago, alongside 10 of our Scottish partners, the VisitScotland Business Events team attended and exhibited at IBTM World in Barcelona. Collectively, we had a fantastic few days reuniting with our industry friends and colleagues as well discussing lots of exciting business opportunities for Scotland.

One of the highlights of the event for me was taking part in our session Journey to Change: The Future of Business Events after COP26, which was moderated by our very own Rory Archibald, as part of IBTM World's Knowledge Programme.

I joined a panel with Laura Lopez, Director, Conference Affairs, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Kathleen Warden, Director of Conference Sales, Scottish Event Campus (SEC) to discuss the execution of COP26 from the initial discussions through to delivery and legacy.

We spoke about the immense pride that was felt across Scotland in hosting COP26, the largest business event to take place in our country or indeed the UK. Laura was incredibly complimentary about the support the UN received from organisations across Scotland in the build up to the event and shared her key highlights.

The session was a great opportunity to discuss the complexities of the event, with Kathleen providing some insights from behind the scenes at the SEC, to our industry friends and colleagues across the globe. It was also an opportunity to highlight just how integral business events are in helping to tackle some of the biggest issues we face across the planet, notably climate change.

As a sector, we have made some steady process in becoming more sustainable but there is still a lot we can improve on. I personally think large events, like COP26, should act as a demonstration to smaller ones of what can be done.

Event organisers need to build sustainable practices into the way we work, for example recycling materials that were previously viewed as single use and reducing food miles, something Scotland has placed great focus on for several years now. What COP26 can do is help galvanise people to ensure these shifts become permanent and take them to the next level.

Legacy is key - every single business event that takes place in Scotland and across the globe should be nudging forward some sort of economic, societal or cultural issue that needs to be addressed. As an industry, we should ensure that every event around the world is a 'mini COP' - that there are discussions, experts, outcomes and a legacy. That's the power of business events - to create change and make the world a better place. That's what we need to harness out of COP26.

As we head into the festive season and into a new year, I would like to acknowledge the severe privations experienced by all of our industry friends and colleagues for almost two years. At the time of writing, there is renewed anxiety as to what 2022 might hold. We fully appreciate everything you have worked on this year. We are grateful for your support of our Journey to Change campaign and for joining us at industry tradeshows to promote Scotland as a sustainable and forward-thinking destination.

On behalf of the VisitScotland Business Events team, we hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a very Happy New Year.